Religion dept. encourages rice bowl donations

Religion dept. encourages rice bowl donations

Junior Daniel Hentschel walks around religion department chair Joseph Gallen’s Medical Ethics class with the rice bowl. The religion department has offered rice bowl donations from Ash Wednesday to March 27.

Sydney Setree, Managing Editor

Each year during the Lenten season, religion classes initiate Operation Rice Bowl, a chance for students to help the less fortunate by donating money.

Donations are contributed to four different charities. Since Catholic Relief Services (CRS) controls the program, some funds are given to this international organization. Other charities that receive donations are Smile Train, Hands Together, and Big Laurel Learning Center.

Smile Train provides free surgeries throughout the world to fix cleft disfigurements, a noticeable defect in the mouth. Since cleft disfigurements are thought to be caused by mothers’ malnutrition, Smile Train is most prominent in Third World countries.

Hands Together helps people in Haiti. The organization aids the country by assisting the residents with education, food, houses, wells, irrigation, and jobs.

Big Laurel Learning Center is a community that encourages education and protection of the land. Religion teacher Sister Marge Gallagher belongs to the same ministry as Sister Kathleen O’Hagan, the head of the Big Laurel Learning Center.

“The [Rice Bowl program] experience has been helpful to all of us to make us more aware of where we spend our money and how that money could better serve our local and global community,” religion teacher Elise Gower said.

Students share the same outlook about the spirit of giving to those in need. “It makes me feel grateful for what I have and how lucky I am,” junior Jordan Flagler said.

“The rice bowl donations allow people to make an extra sacrifice during Lent by donating money to the less fortunate,” junior Emily Patrick said.

“It helps me to be more generous and not think about myself,” freshman Nick Moscati said.

According to Religion Department Chair Joseph Gallen, the rice bowl has been passed around for as long as he can remember. He began running the Operation Rice Bowl at JC in 1997.

“It inspires me that these [students] are willing to throw in their lunch money,” Gallen said.

In comparison to previous years, the donation money has been a “greater turnout,” according to Gallen. “I never receive this much money, but this year two of my sections are already past $100,” he said. So far, the religion department has raised over $450.

Gallen always holds a competition to encourage his classes to raise more money. As an incentive, Gallen then throws a party for the section that gives the most money.

However, some classes are not as competitive as others. “My class is not very competitive, but I think we should be because it would encourage us to raise more money,” sophomore Lauren Wenig said.

Either way, the main purpose of the donations is almsgiving, not competition. Flagler explains that the competition doesn’t motivate him to donate more money, even if the class that raises the most is rewarded with a party. Instead, he “just brings it in.”

“It’s a part of a Lenten sacrifice,” religion teacher Christopher Yeung said. “By giving, we understand Christ’s gift to us which is his sacrificial love made most manifest.”

“The rice bowls help us improve our kindness towards others, and it gives us a more special meaning to the Lenten season,” Wenig said.

Operation Rice Bowl will end March 27.

Sydney Setree is a Managing Editor for The Patriot and